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Thoughts on the UEFA Club Coefficient

So yesterday, I was suckered into reading an article on goal.com about how the Champions League draw is not fair. Their main point is that Arsenal, who barely managed to qualify from the Premier League and had to go through the playoff, are still in Pot 1 for the draw due to the way that UEFA calculates the club coefficient. (Their second example was how Manchester United's run to the final a couple of years ago makes up for their lackluster performances the last two years). In engineering terms, they are saying that the coefficient is a low pass filter in a highly dynamic sport, destroying most of the information about teams that are "good" (Sorry, I am a PhD student: everything comes back to engineering).

While I think the article is junk, I am interested in people's opinions about the UEFA club coefficient. The system is set up to reward clubs that have been good over a longer period of time (and come from stronger leagues). This, however, acts to the detriment of teams like Manchester City or Dortmund who win the league but end up in a low pot due to a lack of recent European qualification. In the end, it does have an effect of making it easier for teams on top to remain there and harder for new teams to break in (which is fine by me if they are one of the oil barons).

Here at TSF, we support a team that benefits by the current system. Arsenal routinely reach the knockout stages of the Champions league, but have, in recent years, just barely qualified for the Champions league (coming from one of the stronger leagues in Europe).

In short, what teams should be rewarded (by higher seeding)? Ones with consistent success over 5 years (the current system)? The teams who won their leagues the previous season? The teams who did well the previous year in European competitions?

My personal opinion would be to shorten the term to 4 or maybe 3 years and weight the country coefficient based on the final league (or cup) position the previous year. For example, the league champion would get 30% of the country's coefficient added to their coefficient, while the league runners up (and cup champion) would get 15%, and everyone else would get 5-10%. This would decrease the time required to build up rankings and would reward those who did well domestically and give them a chance to be in a higher pot for the draw.

In the end, UEFA has set up this competition, so they can dictate the rules. I don't think it is unfair the way that it is set up, but it does have the effect of spreading out the top teams to prevent them from facing each other in the group stage.

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